HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html US Bounty Hunters 'Just Can't Do That'
Pubdate: Tue, 23 Nov 2004
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Greg Mcarthur, with files from Vito Pilieci, The Ottawa Citizen


Valley Villages Buzzing Over Eganville Man's Kidnapping

GOLDEN LAKE - They've been gone for more than a week, but have already 
cemented themselves a place in the folklore of these parts: The two U.S. 
bounty hunters who snatched Kenny Weckwerth from his girlfriend's house.

The Ohio bounty hunters -- who grow in size and legend with every person 
you talk to -- scoured the villages of Golden Lake and Eganville last 
weekend, knocking on doors and inquiring at restaurants.

The white guy did most of the talking. The black guy was a quiet behemoth, 
the locals say.

"You'd have to take two of my hands to make one of his," said Ron Kuno, who 
ran into the manhunters-for-hire at Branch 353 of the Royal Canadian Legion.

Bounty hunters are usually reserved for old Westerns and Star Wars films, 
not smalltown Ontario. But on the night of Nov. 14, just after Mr. 
Weckwerth had finished his moose and hamburger meatloaf dinner, the two men 
tracked him down and hauled him away in their silver van.

Mr. Weckwerth, a 60-year-old Eganville man, was wanted because he skipped 
out on a court hearing for drug-related charges in Ohio. He had lived in 
the U.S. for years, drifting around and never holding down a steady job.

He fled back to the Ottawa Valley, where he was known at area taverns in 
the summer as an amateur country singer.

The problem was, he had hired a private company -- referred to in the U.S. 
as a bail bond company -- to put up the money for his bond. Until he 
attended court, the government would keep the bond money and the bail bond 
company would be out thousands of dollars.

Enter the bounty hunters, also known as bail enforcement agents.

"All I saw was two giant guys get out of the car," said his girlfriend, 
Madeline Granzie, who had to put on Mr. Weckwerth's socks and cowboy boots 
because the bounty hunters wouldn't take off his handcuffs. He was only 
allowed to take a few items: a puffer, cigarettes, his watch and gold 
chain. His Epiphone acoustic guitar had to stay behind.

"They just can't do that. They're not supposed to be able to," said Darwin 
Bernard, a friend of Mr. Weckwerth's who was paid a visit by the hunters.

The U.S. border guards agreed. When the two men pulled up to the Niagara 
Falls border crossing with Mr. Weckwerth, the guards got suspicious.

Now all three men are sitting in a Buffalo, New York, jail.

The bounty hunters face charges of forcible confinement and kidnapping and 
are being investigated by U.S officials for making false statements to a 
federal border agent.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in western New York could not be 

Meanwhile, Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs says it is urging Mr. 
Weckwerth's release, though his brother isn't confident.

"I don't know if they'll ever get him back," said Brian Weckwerth, an 
Eganville accountant. "That's the indication I got from the Canadian 
consulate. Once they get you down there, they don't care how you got there."

In January 1988, an official document, called a memorandum of 
understanding, was sent between the U.S. State Department and Canada's 
Foreign Affairs Department. It established that the kidnapping of persons 
by "so-called bounty hunters" was an extraditable offence.

The agreement was sparked by a similar incident in 1981, when a Toronto 
businessman, Sidney Jaffe, was abducted from the lobby of his condominium 
by U.S. bounty hunters posing as policemen.

Mr. Jaffe was tossed into a vehicle and smuggled across the U.S. border to 
Florida, where he was wanted on several counts of land fraud and for 
skipping bail.

Mr. Jaffe was convicted shortly after he was turned over by the bounty 
hunters in Florida.

However, protests from the Canadian government saw the charges overturned 
in 1983, at which time Mr. Jaffe was returned to Canada.

Rodney Moore, a spokesman with Foreign Affairs, said the department is not 
taking Mr. Weckwerth's plight lightly. "This is a serious issue and we're 
going to be pursuing it with the State Department," he said.

Though it's nearly non-existent in Canada, bounty hunting is a lucrative 
industry in the U.S. Thousands of bounty hunters track down fugitives who 
skip out on court hearings. Their most famous contemporary is Duane "Dog" 
Chapman, a convicted murderer-turned bounty hunter and born-again 
Christian. Mr. Chapman has his own reality television show on A&E. 
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